INTO THE QUARTERS

Galatasaray lifted the expectations of their fans and supporters by getting into the quarter-finals of the Champions League but in this season their last encounter of the group stages sees them having to defeat the Italian titans Juventus in order for them to survive and keep on advancing any further in the European tournament.

The Turkish team faced Antonio Conte’s side during their 1st leg which concluded in in a 2-2 draw.

If the final result is another draw, it will not be enough for Galatasaray in their European journey as the only outcome that can put them ahead will be a victory with all 3 points propelling them into the next round of the Champions League alongside the already qualified Real Madrid.

This victory will be easier said than done considering that Mancini’s side has been struggling on getting consistent performances. The Turkish team is one of the clubs in the group stages of the Champions League that has conceded more goals this season and with a Juventus team that will be going all out in search of a victory it will be a hard task ahead of them when they face off against the Italian titans.

Meanwhile on the attacking department of Galatasaray, Burak Yilmaz is performing superbly in the Turkish league but it’s a totally different story in the Champions League as he has failed to score a goal despite his large number of appearances and while Umut Bulut has scored more goals in the European tournament he is not the consistent performer that Mancini might want to.

This leaves their passage into the round of 16 hanging in the balance with nothing more than a victory being the only thing that can see them going through.

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MANCINI CHASES CITY PLAYERS

The manager of Galatasaray SK, Roberto Mancini, is believed to be looking to bid for a couple of Manchester City players during the mid-season transfer window. Those two players are Gareth Barry who has been playing for Everton on loan at the moment and Aleksandar Kolarov who was reported to be on the radar of Galatasaray during the pre-season transfer window as well.

Mancini knows both these players pretty well as he was the City boss until the last season. He is believed to have a good tuning with these two players and people should not be surprised that much if he manages to lure both of them to Turkey.

As far as Barry is concerned, his contract with the Sky Blues is going to expire at the end of this season and considering his age and form, the City management will not be too much interested in giving him a contract extension. So, securing his services should not be that difficult for Mancini.

But, getting Kolarov is not going to be that easy for the Italian manager. First, City would probably not let Kolarov go and even if they do so, there are already quite a few top clubs waiting in line to secure the services of the 28 years old left-back.

For Galatasaray, signing Kolarov is more important than signing Barry because they don’t have a quality left-back at the moment. In that position, they have been using Dany who is actually a centre-back.

A few days ago, when Kolarov was asked about him being on the radar of a lot of clubs around the world, he made it clear that he is currently not looking to take a transfer.

The Serbian international said, “There are a couple of years left in my contract and I am not looking to go anywhere else.”

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SPAIN SQUAD ANNOUNCED

The Spanish squad has been announced for the upcoming friendly match against Ecuador which is going to take place at Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa on Wednesday.

As expected, the senior players have been rested and the youngsters have been brought in.

This will be Spain’s first match after their defeat against Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup one and half months back.

The senior players who haven’t been picked are Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Fernando Torres and Xavi.

Quite a few members of the U-21 squad including Thiago Alcantara and Isco have been called up.

Announcing the squad yesterday, the manager of the Spanish team Vicente Del Bosque said, “This is just the beginning of the season and we will have to consider many factors at this point of time.”

“This shouldn’t be seen as a friendly fixture only. This is a very important match. If we do well here, we will go into the match against Finland in a positive frame of mind.”

Spain has performed quite well in the World Cup qualifiers so far. They have won 3 out of their 5 games. The remaining couple of games have been draws.

La Roja is currently at the first position in the Group I points table with 11 points. France which is at no. 2 has one point less than them.

Spain still has to play 3 World Cup qualifiers. The first one of them will be against Finland on 6th of September at Helsinki Olympiastadion. After that, there will be a couple of home games against Belarus and Georgia respectively.

When asked about Spain being in a comfortable position in Group I, Bosque said, “Yes, we are at the top of the table with only 3 games left. So, we have a great chance, but, we can’t be careless.”

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GALA CLOSE IN ON MIKEL

Galatasaray are thought to be extremely close to signing Chelsea midfielder John obi Mikel. The player has said that in a statement that Galatasaray are in advanced negotiations with Chelsea over a potential transfer. This will come as a surprise to many especially because Mikel had several years left on his contract still. He has been a first-team regular for the club over the last few years after having been signed by Chelsea Mourinho back in 2006 as a teenager. He has said that he has spent several years at Chelsea to consider a move away from the club.

If he moves to Galatasaray, he will be joining his former teammate Didier Drogba, who moved to the Turkish capital a few months ago. Galatasaray have been spending big in the transfer market in the hope of becoming a superpower in Europe. They managed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League last season. Chelsea have been linked with Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi over the last few months. They will be looking to sign the 29-year-old as a replacement for Mikel if he indeed leaves for Turkish football.

Mikel was initially criticised for not being mature enough, but the last few years have seen the best of the 26 year old. He recently managed to win the Champions League title as well.

“I have played at Chelsea for a long time and it’s now time for me to leave. I’m still only 26 and it’s great to receive an offer from a club playing Champions League football and doing well in the competition. Talks have reached an advanced level between Chelsea and Galatasaray. Chelsea won’t make the move difficult and regarding my salary there won’t be a problem. All that is left is for the clubs to reach an agreement,” said Mikel.